The owners of Erica General Store and Bakery have been left devastated by a robbery early Monday morning during which a thief ordered the handover of takings from the small business.
The robbery, which has shocked the small town, occurred on the eve of this weekend’s Hobby Horse Races and Carnival, and tour by the Melbourne Cup.
Messages of support for owners Warren and Annette Amy, known as Wazz and Nettie, have flowed in on the store’s and Walhalla’s Facebook pages since the incident.
Several people have pledged via Facebook to visit this weekend to buy one of the store’s pies, which were featured in last week’s Express after winning medals at the Official Great Aussie Pie Competition.
The couple’s children have also set up a crowd funding campaign, urging people to donate or at least show support by trying a pie, to help the store get back on its feet.
According to police, a man wearing a balaclava and dark clothing entered the store at 7.10am Monday, threatened a female attendant to hand over the takings and then left with the money.
Mr Amy said he could only hope the thief had needed the money more than the store.
“The person that did (it) hopefully was just down on his luck and needed the money for his kids,” Mr Amy said.
“If that’s the case then good luck, we just hope that it’s gone to a good cause.”
Mrs Amy said support by the town’s residents had been “wonderful”.
The Amys also praised police for their quick response to the incident, despite the town’s relative remoteness.
Police are appealing for residents of the Erica and Rawson communities who witnessed suspicious activity on the morning of the robbery or have information about the identity of the thief to come forward.
They are also seeking anyone who helped a motorist that had run off the Walhalla-Tyers Road in the Jacob Creek area on Monday morning to phone Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Warragul CIU on 5622 7150.